I have spent my whole life passing through Orewa. Growing up in Northland meant trips to Auckland were a big thing and there was never any time to stop and explore. So when offered the chance to spend a weekend in Orewa, I thought, why not?
This is my chance to discover more about a town that sits on a beautiful pohutakawa-lined beach within an easy drive from the city.
Leaving Auckland before Friday night rush hour, we arrive at the Nautilus apartments in the heart of Orewa within half an hour. From our penthouse apartment with 180 degree views, we fall in love with the beach.
Friends, who live locally, call in for a glass of champagne and fill us in on vital information like where to get the best coffees in town (The Windmill Cafe, which stocks all things Dutch from cheeses to biscuits, and surprisingly enough, the BP station).
Everything is within walking distance: the supermarket to stock up on bacon and eggs for breakfast, and a variety of restaurants, including the excellent Hayami Japanese Restaurant directly under the building where we eat delicious tempura and sashimi and drink sake.
We awake to rain on Saturday and the plan is to go skiing at Snowplanet just a 10-minute drive away. We are side-tracked as we pass through Silverdale by the Saturday market in the local hall (look out for the guy selling homemade hummus - delicious), the Bendon outlet store, and a groovy shop called Floozie which stocks retro furniture and crafts.
It may be wet and raining, but at Snowplanet it's perfect skiing conditions all day long.
As we're kitted out with boots and skis (we've bought our own ski clothes, but you can hire them) there's a growing sense of excitement. We click into bindings, glide up to the poma and head straight to the top of the slope. A couple of hours later we stop for a coffee in the cafe. Exhilarated and exhausted we call it quits, but can't help picking up a brochure for ski holidays as we walk out.
Time for a late lunch. Twenty minutes north and we are driving through the bohemian township of Puhoi to the Art of Cheese Cafe, home of the Puhoi Cheese factory.
Ravenous, we tuck into Soupe au Bleau - homemade tomato soup with blue cheese - and share the Tulips of Amsterdam platter with gouda cheeses, aged cheddar, salami, gerkins, onions and bread.
We're tempted to stop off for one of Puhoi's Devonshire teas - but that would be too greedy - and if it wasn't raining we'd definitely have been keen to kayak down to the Wenderholm inlet with Puhoi River Canoe Hire. Instead we run through the rain into the historic Puhoi Pub, full of friendly bearded locals gathered around the fire.
It's the first day of the duck shooting season and they've been competing to bring home the heaviest bird and, among other things, the strangest kill (the word is a wildebeest has escaped from Alan Gibbs' private animal farm over the hills near Kaipara Flats).
We leave the locals to check out the antique store across the road, then head back to the Nautilus where the sauna, outdoor spa and heated infinity pool prove the perfect way to soothe our muscles.
As night falls we head to the Walnut Cottage Cafe run by the delightful Klaus and Kerstin Zelles. After travelling around New Zealand, this German couple went home, sold up and came back with their son to create a new life in Orewa. The cottage is cosy and homely with European touches, and Klaus spoils us with his finest fare: salmon and avocado mousse, kingfish with a delicate homemade curry sauce and rice, tender venison with juniper cream sauce and cranberries, German spaetzle and broccoli, and the most exquisite chocolate mousse and apple strudel.
Sunday morning we walk along the length of Orewa beach before diving into the waves. We laugh hysterically with the cold and the amazing fact that this time yesterday we were skiing on snow.
We can't resist stopping off at The Auckland Luge where we spend an hour racing at full speed down the hillside.
It's been a fun weekend and with everything so close, there's no exhaustion from sitting behind the wheel for hours.
Jucy Rentals Cars & Campas are at 2-16 The Strand, Parnell. Phone
0800 399 736.
Nautilus Apartments are at 8-13 Tamariki Ave, Orewa. Phone 0800 843 628.
Snowplanet is at 91 Small Rd, Silverdale. Phone (09) 427 0044.
The Auckland Luge is at 2102 East Coast Road, Silverdale. Phone
0800 773 366.
The Walnut Cottage Cafe is at 498 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Orewa.
Phone (09) 427 5570.
Hayami Japanese Restaurant is at Nautilus Building, 3/9a Tamariki Ave, Orewa. Phone (09) 427 9264.
The Art of Cheese Café is at 275 Ahuroa Rd, Puhoi. (09) 422 0670.